June and July 2018

The Chapel are pleased to be supporting the work of The Peace and Hope Trust. The charity are UK based and have been working amongst poor and marginalised communities in Nicaragua since they were founded in 1996. Nicaragua is a country that is regularly affected by natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides and remains one of the neediest in the Western Hemisphere.

The Chapel are supporting two upcoming events which have been organised by Peace and Hope Trust volunteer, Carolyn Gibbs: a coffee morning (details below) and an evening of entertainment (September 21st, details to follow).

 

Coffee and crafts

 

In the 1980’s, humanitarian and spiritual singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn visited Nicaragua and his life was changed by what he found there. Here he is singing ‘Nicaragua.’

Enjoy – and see you at The Chapel sometime soon.

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March and April 2018

Firstly, one of our members is singing in an upcoming concert in Arundel which, I’m sure, will be a great evening. Details are here.

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Easter seems to have arrived early this year and with the snow leaving us only a week before the clocks were put forward, things have seemed a little disorientating at times.

On Easter Sunday, Stuart will lead the worship with the focus being on the role that St. Peter played in the story of Jesus’ death, perhaps putting any sense of minor disorientation that we may be experiencing at the moment into something of a perspective. But if you are feeling something more than a little of of sorts, here is a litany that may be of comfort.

It is based on the words of John Bannister Tabb, an American Catholic priest and poet, who lived at the end of the 19th Century.

Litany – ‘Life Again’

(Embolden words by John Banister Tabb).

 When life becomes hard and our confidence is shattered;

Out of the dusk a shadow, then a spark.

 When the voice of the spirit, the voice of God seems to elude our hearts;

Out of the cloud of silence, then a lark.

 When joy fills our hearts only to see us fall and struggle to get up;

Out of the heart a rapture, then, a pain.

 Never lose hope; never lose faith; never lose sight that through all of the turmoil and pain, there is love somewhere, waiting;

Out of the dead cold ashes,

Life again.

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January and February 2018

Stuart gave the following little address last month. It’s the the sort of thing that you’ll hear when the Unitarians meet for worship on a Sunday. But Sundays are a fraction of what we do here at The Chapel! Explore our site to find out what we are all about – and see you at The Chapel soon.

IMAGINE

When I was a boy there was nothing better in life than playing with a box of Lego. New Lego boxes were colourful and exciting, filled with the potential of my imagination.

In the 1970’s, the box covers gave illustrations of three or four things that could be made with any given set; a house, a car – that sort of thing – but as I recall, there were few, if any instructions. It was a few pictures and then imagination.

lego 1970's

I’d try to build whatever it was on the front cover of the box but within a few hours of getting new Lego, the set would be amalgamated with the old boxful that I already had and soon there would be just one delightful, delicious ragbag jumble of Lego bits. And that’s when my imagination ran wild.

These days, Lego seems to be a bit more prescriptive. There’s still an attractive picture on the box-front but it seems that we are directed to just the one thing that it’s possible to make with any particular set. Technology has made it possible to make anything with Lego which will look more or less exactly like the thing it’s supposed to be. That’s exciting – but perhaps there is a cost.

LEGO-Rogue-One-U-Wing-Fighter-Box-Front

After a recent experience of playing Lego with my Godchild, I did notice that a few days in of possession of a new set, the carefully engineered, precisely constructed models of the modern era had soon become amalgamated with the existing Lego set and had ended up in one big lovely jumble over the carpet.

Could it be that despite the manufacturer’s best efforts to direct our minds towards a preconceived, polished, finely engineered goal the lure of imagination and a bagful of random Lego is yet the more powerful?

Do our brains have an imperative for imagination?  I would suggest that they do and so long as we don’t lose all grip of reality, then surely to nourish this aspect of our psyche is a natural, human response to life.

With our imagination we can marvel and dream and live with a sense of awe and wonder at the possibilities of what could be.

And this leads me to another aspect. Too often these days, people are, perhaps, a little too quick to draw a distinction between something as being ‘true’ as in  factually, historically accurate and something as being untrue because it is partly imagined, partly mythologised, partly mysterious and therefore to be dismissed. This often happens with religious stories.

But often, such stories do contain truths (as opposed ‘the Truth’).  Religious stories contain meaning. Religious stories are concerned less about historical accuracy and more about the light which they may shed upon the human condition.

The extent to which believing religious stories to be factually true is often a matter of personal religious belief. But perhaps ‘belief’ matters less than does the possibility that stories have has the potential to repeatedly reach deep into the heart of our minds and souls and to whisper again and again, ‘imagine a world whose defining characteristics are radically better than those which we currently experience all too often.’

And if we can imagine what that this world might look like, we stand a better chance of building it, right here, right now.

And unlike modern Lego, we don’t need a finely tuned engineered set of tools to do that, or for that matter, a detailed set of instructions. The lovely jumble of humanity that we already have to hand– and a bit of imagination- will do just fine.

 

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December 2017

You are warmly invited to our Carol Service on Sunday December 17th 2017 at 4.00 pm. We will be enjoying a selection of favourite carols and some Christmas folk songs, topped off by mince pies and mulled wine. Do join us if you are able to.

Natvity scene

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November and December 2017

bonfire embers

Last Saturday, Jan and I had a lovely ‘chapel centred’ evening. We enjoyed a healthily attended folk club which saw us not only enjoying some great music but also some sparklers at the half time interval, care of our good friends from the Godalming congregation.

Before the folk club, we were delighted to be able to attend Libby’s bonfire and firework’s display in her garden. Barnie was on fine form in both keeping the fire burning strongly and in choreographing a super little firework display. There was fun, laughter and the lovely November chill in the air, was soon offset by a snug log fire and some warm sausage sandwiches and chocolate brownies.

At one point in the evening, I found myself alone and utterly captivated by the fire’s embers as they shot into the air, glowed gorgeously for a few seconds before then dying away into the nothingness of the evening sky.

I stood staring for what seemed like many minutes, although in reality, it was probably much less; though time did seem to stand still and for these brief moments as life seemed to open fully before me.

I couldn’t help but wonder at the metaphor. The life of an ember is full of beauty and for all too short a time, has the energy of youth and wondrous potential. Together, a host of embers do magical things to the dark as they each go their own way, individual yet seemingly orchestrated in some way.

Then they die away, leaving but a wispy trail of their existence.

Spirit of life; divine presence; God – may we hold such metaphors deep in our hearts and minds and use them to live each day as deeply and fully as we can.

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September and October 2017

Car parks. On the face of it, perhaps not the most inspiring of subjects.

This said, there are some pretty smart ones around. Take a look.

And parking? It can be the bane of some people’s lives. Not only is finding a spot sometimes pretty hard these days, but there’s sometimes the question of reverse parallel parking to negotiate. But take heart by looking here: you’re not the only one who struggles at times.

So why the subject of parking? Well, we’re all pretty excited at the chapel by the smart new one that we had created in August. Our fresh looking car park is another addition to making our premises ever more attractive and fit for purpose.

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Smart eh?

And it’s always worth remembering – and giving thanks for – all those who make a  contribution to our work here. Some are able to contribute financially and others simply come and get involved, making it all the more worth our while putting such improvements as a new car park, in place.

We need support of every kind and one sort is not more important than other; both enable us to be able to fulfill our aim in making The Chapel a place of contemplation, creativity, community and compassion. So here’s thanks to our kindly neighbours; those who rent out the premises; those who attend our community activities; those who worship here; our members near and far; our committed committee (if that’s not too many double m’s and t’s) and our trustees who all add to making our little place what it is – just lovely.

And if you haven’t paid us a visit yet, come and see us for yourselves sometime – you are always welcome.

Meanwhile – happy parking.

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July and August 2017

Sunday July 16th saw the chapel celebrate its 263rd Anniversary Service. Jeff Jones led the celebration and his theme centred on the myth of Icarus; falling and flying.

During part of the service, Jeff read out some short testimonies about the chapel which members of our little community had written. It was a heartening and moving section of the afternoon and one of the messages is reproduced below, serving as a reminder that together, with patience and love, we human beings can in some small way, all help to make the world a better place.

 “I so the admire the small team at the chapel who, through their untiring dedication, perseverance and generosity, have created something very special; not only in spiritual terms for their members and congregation but also in the wider sense of reaching out to the surrounding community and beyond by means of the various activities they organise.   They have had the imagination to envisage the potential of what the Chapel as a body might to be able to achieve and they have the courage to continue exploring its possibilities. The little Chapel for me is a place of welcome, warmth and kindness. It is a place where one’s spiritual Unitarian life is encouraged and nourished.  It is a place where Unitarian values are put into practice.  It is a sacred place.”

It was lovely to see the church so full of life and below are some photographs that capture the essence of all that we are. Come and experience it for yourself sometime soon!

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May and June 2017

We have been enjoying many excellent services of late and it is always good to reflect on the fact that we are blessed to have so many talented people who give their time and efforts in making sure that our Sunday mornings are spiritually nourishing. Although we see The Chapel as something broader than a church, we do hold worship at the heart of what we do.

It is remarkable how inclusive Sunday mornings are. Throughout the month, there are ample opportunities for each of us to learn more about the threads of insight that inspire each of us most fully but it is  Sundays that provide us with a chance to celebrate the diversity of these aspects, together as a community. It is mysterious how such diversity can bring us all together.

In a world where religion is sometimes used as a way to create division, religion at its best will always help to bind us to our neighbours. And so it is at The Chapel.

Blessings to all as you explore the website of our lovely little chapel of life.

 

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March and April 2017

As I write, spring seems to be weaving her way into the world.

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I am reminded of the sentiment that our service leader Danielle Wilson talked about the other Sunday morning: that we should always try to take time to dwell on the awe and wonder in the world that surrounds us.

So, as spring springs, take a long, slower look at those daffs; let that Cadbury’s cream egg gently melt in your mouth*and feel the rain upon your face with ever more delight.

As Danielle said, one day, all of us will find brackets enclosing the dates of our existence and the most important element of the two dates that they wrap around is not the numbers themselves but rather the dash that lies between them. For it is this dash which  represents the time we all have, no matter how brief, between the opening and closing of our chapter.

How are you spending your dash?

It may not be possible to live out all, some or even any of our dreams – and that may not be a bad thing. But we can all make a commitment to find as much time as we can during any one day to live as deliberately as we can.

And it might also be possible to  live with as much love reaching out from our hearts as we are humanly capable of. Not easy perhaps, but possible all the same.

Thanks for visiting our site – I hope that your reading was a good use of a tiny, tiny part of your dash and remember to use the rest as wisely as you can.

Looking forward to you popping by again sometime.

*Other brands of chocolate egg are, of course, also available.

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January and February 2017

Welcome to 2017

The ancient Roman god Janus (whose name most scholars believe is the source of the name of our month January) is conventionally thought of as a god of transition.  A single being depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one backward, he is a compelling image of the interconnection between past and future, from one condition to another, from one vision to a new one, but viewed as a single process, perhaps even as a sort of ‘non-duality.’

In a sense then, as we tend to look backwards and forwards at the start of a new year and Janus may be an appropriate symbol for the changes that we are perhaps anticipating across the course of the next phases of our individual and communal lives.

For our little chapel community, we know that some changes are afoot too. Duncan, for example, is stepping into pastures new with his student ministry with our friends over at the congregation at Ditchling and we wish him well with his exciting new endeavour.

We should also remember though that whilst a place of worship can be a place for transformation and change, it can also be a place of stability and security; a place where we can be assured that changes are made at a considered pace, with due regard for the past, the present and the future.

Many things change. People change. Times change. But humanity’s general acknowledgement that there is always room in the heart, mind and soul for that which is eternal and true seems to be a timeless phenomenon, no matter the variety of ways in which this may find expression.

We are all human beings and this makes us spiritual beings and this makes us religious beings* and this is what makes our work at the Chapel so relevant.

So dear human being; Happy New Year to you one and all.

(*You can wrestle with the difference between the two – if you see one – for yourselves).

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